WSDOT prepares for federal funding shortfall

Although Congress has failed to pass a long-term federal highway bill the U.S. House recently took another shot at it as last week it approved by a vote of 367 to 55 H.R. 5021 a $10.8 billion Highway Trust Fund patch which provides sufficient revenue to maintain current funding levels through May 2015. Among the Washington State congressional delegation Reps. DelBene Heck Herrera Beutler Kilmer Larsen McMorris Rodgers Reichert and Smith voted yes; Rep. McDermott voted no.

The bill also extends MAP-21 authorization for the highway and transit programs for those eight months. Revenue needed to support the patch came from a general fund transfer which was off- set by a variety of tax code adjustments including extending customs fees on importers taking money from the leaking underground storage tank fund (LUST) and changing rules on private pension contributions. AGC of America and coalition partners in the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) and the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) urged the House to support H.R. 5021.

The action now heads to the Senate where there is expected to be debate about limiting the extension until December 31 2014 with the hope of forcing consideration of a long term transportation bill with sufficient revenue to support it following the mid-term elections in November.

Meanwhile WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson released the following statement:

USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx informed states on July 1 that if Congress fails to act by Aug. 1 2014 the Federal Highway Administration will institute uniform cash management procedures to distribute the flow of federal dollars twice a month. So what does this mean for WSDOT’s programs? It means that over the short term the amount FHWA will reimburse WSDOT will be limited to a share of the available cash in the fund. Our share is based on our portion of the FFY 2014 federal-formula apportionment 1.72 percent.

We’ve been good stewards of our resources and by using our strategic investment goals – managing to meet our priorities and critical needs we can sustain the proportional payments of federal dollars under this plan for four to six months.

We remain hopeful that Congress will act in time to stave off more significant long-term impacts. Look for more updates as their deadline approaches.

- Lynn Peterson Secretary of Transportation